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Page 29 2 Bilingualism and Second-Language Learning This chapter provides a broad overview of the findings of research on bilingualism and second-language learning and analyzes how theories in these areas have been reflected in thinking about the education of language-minority children in the United States. The literatures associated with these traditions are diverse in their methodologies and epistemologies and have undergone dynamic changes over the course of their history, extending back well over a century. They have developed largely independently from the educational and programmatic concerns that are the focus of this study, but they provide the fundamental science for the linguistic aspects of our inquiry. By necessity, a broad overview of these rich traditions involves a high level of synthesis. This review draws liberally from several existing general syntheses, which should be consulted for further details (Baetens-Beardsmore, 1986; Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994; Grosjean, 1982; Hakuta, 1986; Hamers and Blanc, 1989; Klein, 1986; Larsen-Freeman and Long, 1990; McLaughlin, 1984a, 1985; and Romaine, 1995). State Of Knowledge The following review of the state of knowledge in bilingualism and second-language learning begins by distinguishing the various types of bilingualism. It then briefly examines the consequences of bilingualism. The third section looks at linguistic aspects of acquiring a second language, while the fourth addresses individual differences in second-language acquisition. The phenomenon of language shiftin which ethnic minority groups shift their primary language to that
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Page 30 of the dominant majorityis then examined. The final section reviews findings on educational conditions for second-language learning. Types of Bilingualism Bilingualism is pervasive throughout the world, but it varies according to (1) the conditions under which people become bilingual, (2) the uses they have for their various languages, and (3) the societal status of the languages. For example, in postcolonial Africa, students may be educated in English or French while another language is spoken in the home, and yet another (e.g., Swahili in eastern Africa) may be used in public encounters and institutional settings, such as the courts (Fishman, 1978). In officially bilingual countries such as Switzerland, children use one language at home and for most schooling, but, at least if middle class, are expected to acquire competence in at least one other official language; French and German are of equivalent social status and importance to success. Yet another set of conditions in created in bilingual households, where parents who are native speakers of two different languages choose to use both in the home. Finally, bilingualism is often the product of migration. Immigrants frequently continue to use their native languagewhich may be of low status and not institutionally supportedat home, and learn the dominant language of their new society only as required for work, public encounters, or schooling. The children of such families, for whom school is the primary social context, may end up fully bilingual, bilingual with the new language dominant, or having little knowledge of the parental language. They are the children of particular interest in this report. A number of typologies of bilingualism have been offered. A major distinction among these typologies is that some focus their explanation at the individual and others at the societal level. Individual Level Weinreich (1953) distinguishes among compound, coordinate, and subordinate bilinguals, who differ in the way words in their languages relate to underlying concepts. In the compound form, the two languages represent the same concept, whereas in the coordinate form, the concepts themselves are independent and parallel. In the subordinate form, the weaker language is represented through the stronger language. These different forms are clearly related to the social circumstances in which the two languages are learned, but the distinction also reflects an individual's mental makeup. Weinreich's distinction led to a number of studies seeking behavioral differences reflecting this typology (e.g., Lambert et al., 1958). Though such attempts were essentially abandoned because of the difficulty of operationalizing the distinction, speculation that different bilingual experiences result in different cognitive and neural organization persisted.
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Page 31 The emergence of procedures for seeing what prior stimuli facilitate the recognition of words presented later (called ''lexical priming") has renewed interest in the possibility that we can tap the differential mental processes of the different types of bilinguals (Larsen et al., 1974). A basic distinction at the individual level is that between simultaneous and sequential bilingualism: the former begins from the onset of language acquisition, while the latter begins after about age 5, when the basic components of first-language knowledge are in place (McLaughlin, 1984a). In the sequential type, a distinction is made between early and late bilinguals, according to the age at which second-language acquisition occurred (Genesee et al., 1978). In general, research on distinctions among different types of bilingual individuals has failed to find consistent differences in task performance or processing variables. Much recent information-processing work has focused on the question of whether bilinguals process information in their two languages independently or interdependentlythe findings not being related to any particular bilingual typology. The above findings are important for discussion later in this report that addresses whether the linguistic outcomes of different types of education programs might result in qualitatively different types of individual bilinguals. They suggest, by and large, that bilingualism attained through different conditions of exposure will not be different in its fundamental cognitive organization. Social Level Typologies of bilingualism based on societal variables have focused mainly on the prestige and status of the languages involved. Fishman et al. (1966) draw a distinction between "folk" and "elite" bilingualism, referring to the social status of the bilingual group. The "folk" are immigrants and linguistic minorities who exist within the milieu of a dominant language and whose own language is not held in high esteem within the society. The "elite" are those who speak the dominant language and whose societal status is enhanced through the mastery of additional languages. As Fishman observes, "Many Americans have long been of the opinion that bilingualism is 'a good thing' if it was acquired via travel (preferably to Paris) or via formal education (preferably at Harvard) but that it is a 'bad thing' if it was acquired from one's immigrant parents or grandparents" (pp. 122-123). Similarly, Lambert (1975) distinguishes "additive" from "subtractive" bilingualism. This distinction focuses on the effect of learning a second language on the retention of the native language. In additive bilingualism, the native language is secure, and the second language serves as an enrichment. Canadian French immersion programs for the English-speaking majority are a prime example of additive bilingualism. In subtractive bilingualism, the native language is less robust; society assumes that it will be used only temporarily until replaced by the
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Page 32 dominant language as the group assimilates. Most immigrants to the United States, Canada, and Australia experience this latter form of bilingualism. These broader social distinctions can help us understand how differences in individual-level bilingualism relate to cultural setting. As macro-level descriptions, they are difficult to test, but they help explain why programs that seem quite similar can have such divergent effects in different social settingsfor example, why an immersion program in Canada succeeds in teaching French to English-speaking students who continue to maintain full proficiency in English and to function at a high academic level, while an immersion program to teach English to Spanish-speaking immigrants in the United States often results in both a shift to monolingualism in English and academic failure. (Immersion programs in both cases are sensitive to the fact that the students are all non-native speakers of the language; however, they differ considerably with respect to the populations they serve and their ultimate goals regarding the development of the native language.) Consequences of Bilingualism A commonly expressed fear about childhood bilingualism is that it could confuse the child, both linguistically and cognitively. This fear is rooted in an extensive literature on intelligence testing from the early 1900s (see Diaz, 1983, for a review), when psychometricians compared the performance of bilingual immigrant children and U.S.-born children on various measures of intelligence and found that the monolinguals outperformed the bilinguals. Two explanations for this discrepancy were offered: that the bilinguals (who at that time were predominantly from southern and eastern European countries) were genetically inferior to the western European monolinguals, or that the attempt to learn two languages caused mental confusion. This narrowly construed set of negative interpretations was captured well by noted psychologist Goodenough (1926). Observing a highly negative correlation between the extent to which different language groups used their native language in the home and the mean IQ scores for these groups, she concluded: "This might be considered evidence that the use of a foreign language in the home is one of the chief factors producing mental retardation as measured by intelligence tests. A more probable explanation is that those nationality groups whose average intellectual ability is inferior do not readily learn the new language" (p. 393). The above literature has been largely discredited because of its failure to control for important variables, such as socioeconomic status, as well as the criteria used to select the bilingual samples (some studies, for example, used the students' last names as the basis for deciding whether they were bilingual). When such factors were controlled for, the results were reversed in favor of bilinguals. Indeed, Peal and Lambert (1962), widely credited for introducing important controls in monolingual-bilingual comparisons, describe a bilingual child as "a
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Page 33 youngster whose wider experiences in two cultures have given him advantages which a monolingual does not enjoy. Intellectually his experience with two language systems seems to have left him with a mental flexibility, a superiority in concept formation, a more diversified set of mental abilities" (p. 20). Peal and Lambert's study gave rise to a large number of studies that selected bilinguals on a more considered basis. Generally, the results of these studies showed the bilingual groups to be superior on a variety of measures of cognitive skill, in particular, metalinguistic abilities (see Reynolds, 1991, for a review). Much research in this tradition employs between-group comparisons. To control for confounding factors in such comparisons, other studies have used within-group variation in the degree of bilingualism and looked at the predictive value of this variation for cognitive outcomes (Duncan and DeAvila, 1979; Galambos and Hakuta, 1988; Hakuta, 1987). Such studies continue to show positive relationships between degree of bilingualism and outcome measures. Another tradition of research comes from case studies of individual children exposed to two languages at home. The earliest among these can be credited to the French linguist Ronjat (1913), but the seminal work even to this date is by Werner Leopold, who published a four-volume study of his German-English bilingual daughter Hildegard (1939, 1947, 1949a, 1949b). Ronjat's and Leopold's detailed studies of their own children gave rise to a rich tradition of linguists following their children around with notebooks (and later, tape recorders and video recorders). This literature has been reviewed most recently by Romaine (1995). Generally, the studies suggest that children can become productive bilinguals in a variety of language-use settings, though exposure to a language for less than 20 hours a week does not seem sufficient for a child to produce words in that language, at least up to age 3 (Pearson et al., in press). Very few cases of what might be considered language confusion are reported. Linguistic Aspects of Second-Language Acquisition The theoretical and empirical work in second-language acquisition serves as the basis for defining what one means by "proficiency" in a second language. Some researchers have defined it narrowly around the control of grammatical rules, others around the ability to use language in accomplishing cognitive tasks, and still others around the social and communicative aspects of language. This section describes how such broad definitions of language have influenced work on second-language acquisition. The theoretical assumptions underlying the construct of language proficiency have direct implications for the assessment of language proficiency, a topic addressed in Chapter 5. Much of the research on second-language acquisition borrows heavily from the dominant paradigm in first-language acquisition, and thus has focused on the problem of how linguistic structures are acquired. Many studies, for example, have examined the acquisition of morphological and syntactic features of language
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Page 34 that are fully in place in native speakers by the age of 5 or 6. Among these features are the grammatical aspects of language identified by Brown (1973) in his classic study of Adam, Eve, and Sarah, called Stage I through V speech; they include function words, sentence modalities, sentence embedding, and sentence coordination. One important characterization of research on second-language acquisition relates to the researcher's definition of language. A narrow definition comes from formal linguistics, in particular from Chomsky's (1965) characterization of the logical problem of first-language acquisition as resolved by a "Language Acquisition Device" that enables the learner to derive abstract linguistic knowledge from limited linguistic input. By showing the end-state knowledge to be deep and abstract and demonstrating that this knowledge is not accessible through induction (i.e., observation of "surface data") or extrapolation from more general cognitive principles, one arrives at the logical conclusion that linguistic knowledge must be innate and highly specific to the task of language acquisition. This approach is typically taken by researchers with a background in formal linguistics (e.g., White, 1989; Schachter, 1990) or psychologists who subscribe strongly to linguistic nativism (e.g., Pinker, 1994). A broader view, typically taken by cognitive psychologists such as Bates (1976), Bialystok (Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994), and McLaughlin (1985), defines language to include vocabulary as well as pragmatic and communicative skills, aspects of language that are not considered by formal linguistics, and seeks explanations for language acquisition in general principles of learning and cognition. An even broader view emphasizes the social and interpersonal aspects of language and suggests that these aspects constrain language acquisition. Subscribers to this view include anthropologists (e.g., Gumperz, 1982) and sociolinguists (e.g., Preston, 1989). A view that combines the latter two perspectives is found in the literature on communicative, as opposed to linguistic, competence (Harley et al., 1990). The literature generated by the above questions might be characterized as follows: each position has managed to find a domain of inquiry that legitimizes it, but the relationship among the various positions is far from specified. Thus, research in Universal Grammar (a formal linguistics perspective) has shown that even adults display the ability to learn aspects of language that are abstract and presumably unlearnable from general cognitive or social principles (Epstein et al., in press). This would suggest that a complete theory of second-language acquisition must account for induction of abstract rules from inadequate surface data. Research by those taking the cognitive and functionalist position has shown that on sentence processing tasks, second-language learners are sensitive to cognitively salient factors, such as the animacy of the subject of a sentence (in English, most subjects of sentences tend to be animate rather than inanimate). Thus, this view would argue that second-language learning can be regarded as a cognitive accomplishment. Those with a socioliguistic orientation, on the other hand, have pointed to examples where social variables affect language use and
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Page 35 structure, that is, where socially useful phrases are learned first (e.g., Hatch, 1978), and bilinguals learn rules for code switching (e.g., Zentella, 1981) and for adjusting their language use to social circumstances (e.g., Bayley, 1991; Preston, 1989). Thus we must conclude that second-language acquisition is a complex process requiring a diverse set of explanatory factors (Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994). Developing an inclusive theory of how a second language is acquired therefore necessitates moving beyond the description of plausible acquisition mechanisms for specific domains to an explanation of how those mechanisms work together to produce the integrated knowledge of a language that enables its use for communication. A second important dimension of second-language acquisition is the extent of involvement of the native language in the acquisition process. Are native speakers of Spanish different from native speakers of Vietnamese in their acquisition of English? In the early 1960s, the answer would have been a definitive "yes," based on contrastive analysis theory (Lado, 1964). The 1970s saw an almost total rejection of the contrastive analysis approach and emergence of the view that second-language acquisition is accomplished through direct access to the language acquisition device, without mediation by the native language. This change was supported empirically by studies that examined the types of errors made by second-language learners and found that many errors could not be attributed to language transfer, and that many errors predicted by a simple transfer theory were absent. Also, a number of studies focusing on the acquisition of English morphology by learners from different language backgrounds demonstrated remarkable similarities in order of acquisitionsuggesting that the target language has more effect than the first language on the course of acquisition (Bailey et al., 1974). The paradigm shift away from a focus on transfer was marked by the emergence of the notion of "interlanguage" (Selinker, 1972), conceived of as a linguistic system unique to each learner who has not yet achieved full competence in the second language. Nonetheless, language transfer errors are frequent and have continued to fascinate researchers (Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994; Odlin, 1989). Even within the Chomsky-inspired Universal Grammar framework, language transfer, interpreted as "maintenance of first-language parameter settings," has gained momentum as an area of research. Finally, there is some interest in the possibility that language transfer would be more evident in the quantitative (speed of acquisition) rather than qualitative (e.g., types of errors and patterns of acquisition) aspects of second-language acquisition (Odlin, 1989), that is, that it takes longer to learn a language that is typologically very different from the native language than one that is relatively similar. For example, it would be easier for a native English speaker to learn French than Chinese. A third dimension of importance is the age and concomitant cognitive skills of the second-language learner. The dominant first-language acquisition research
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Page 36 paradigms equated first- and second-language learners, thus minimizing attention to those aspects of second-language acquisition that are unique to the more cognitively developed learner. In the early literature, for example, Hakuta (1976) noted that Uguisu, a 5-year old Japanese girl learning English, used connectives (and, but, because, etc.) much earlier in her English development than first-language learners do, and furthermore that she was less constrained by memory factors than first-language learners. Lightbown (1977) similarly attested to a lack of semantic constraints among second-language learners, presumably owing to their more advanced cognitive level. Such observations help explain why older children acquire a second language so much more quickly than younger children (e.g., Snow and Hoefnagel-Höhle, 1978). Older language learners need to learn more complex linguistic structures in order to respond age-appropriately to the tasks for which they must use their second language. Snow (1987) suggests that older learners are more often faced with tasks in which various sorts of contextual support (e.g., helpful conversational partners, practice in talk about the topic) are unavailable. For example, adolescent immigrants in a submersion situation where they have no help in understanding the non-native language must produce language performances about complex and/or abstract topics with no conversational support at a much earlier stage of acquisition than preschool-aged immigrants. Furthermore, Snow's findings suggest that performance on highly supported or conversational tasks will not necessarily predict performance on less contextualized tasks. In one study of bilingual children, she showed that within either language, performance on contextualized tasks (such as face-to-face communication) was poorly related to that on less contextualized tasks (such as defining the meaning of a word) (Snow, 1987, 1990). Experience on a particular type of task within a specific language was more important than overall language proficiency in predicting performance on that task (see also Malakoff, 1988). Cummins (1979, 1991) proposes a related task analysis that distinguishes two dimensionsdegree of contextual support and degree of cognitive challenge. He argues that for a second-language speaker, performance on more conversationally supported and less challenging tasks (e.g., a chat with the English as a second language [ESL] teacher) will not predict performance on more challenging and autonomous tasks, test taking in particular, since the conversational abilities emerge first (Cummins and Swain, 1986). While both Cummins and Snow agree that language task analysis is crucial to prediction of academic performance from language proficiency, they disagree about whether second-language learning necessarily starts with conversational skills; in fact, a frequent feature of immigrant bilingualism is that seemingly more difficult tasks may be performed better in the second than in the first language. These views of language share the important claim that academic language is different from language use in other contexts, a claim related to an underlying view of language as an ability with many components, rather than a single accomplishment that cannot
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Page 37 be analyzed. Both suggest that second-language abilities should be assessed in relation to the uses of language the learner will require, rather than in isolation as an abstract competence. Individual Differences in Second-Language Acquisition The most striking fact about second-language learning, especially as compared with first-language learning, is the variability in outcomes. Many individual and group variables have been examined in attempts to explain success or failure in second-language acquisition. This section reviews the literature on various individual differences in second-language acquisition. In looking at this literature, it is important to appreciate that the definition of the outcome of the second-language acquisition process has itself been variable, as discussed in the previous section (see also Chapter 5 on student assessment). Age of Learning One frequently cited factor is the age of the learner, with the assumption that younger learners acquire a second language more quickly and with a higher level of proficiency. Periodic reviews of this literature (Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994; Collier, 1987; Epstein et al., 1996; Harley and Wang, in press; Krashen et al., 1982; Long, 1990; Snow, 1987) have not supported this claim very well. Even though there is a critical period in the learning of a first language, this does not imply there is one for second-language learning. The following observations might be made: • More mature learners generally make faster initial progress in acquiring morphological, syntactic, and lexical aspects of a second language. • An increasing age of onset for second-language acquisition is correlated with declining ultimate attainment in the control of phonological, morphological, and syntactic aspects of language across age groups, beginning typically by age 6-7 in childhood and continuing into adulthood. In adult learners, this association between onset age and declining outcomes is most strongly manifested in oral aspects of second-language proficiency (maintenance of an accent). • Some adult learners are nonetheless capable of near-native, if not native-like, performance in a second language, while some children are unsuccessful in achieving native-like performance. • There is a general lack of evidence that acquisition processes differ across age groups, i.e., that radically different types of errors are made or that there is a different sequence to the acquisition of structures for learners of different ages (Harley and Wang, in press). Many researchers have assumed that the best explanation for the age-related
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Page 38 decline in oral ability with a second language is a biological one, based on a critical or sensitive period in brain development (Johnson and Newport, 1989, 1991; Oyama, 1976; Patkowski, 1980). However, the behavioral evidence is not consistent with evidence about periods of brain growth, and serious methodological problems have dogged even the most sound of existing studies (see Snow's 1987 review of critical period theory, and Bialystok and Hakuta's 1994 review of Johnson and Newport's study). For example, proficiency assessments often focus on tasks such as judgments about grammatical or morphological correctnessmatters in which younger learners have likely received formal instruction. Also, younger immigrants are typically younger at testing; younger subjects have an advantage in any test that involves auditory attention. Studies in which the conditions of acquisition were as comparable as possible for younger and older learners (e.g., Genesee's 1981 study of early- versus late-immersion students) are less likely to show poorer ultimate performance for older learners. Studies of age as a factor in the acquisition of English appropriate for academic use are consistent with the studies cited above in that children who start learning English in kindergarten in English-only educational settings take longer to achieve age-appropriate levels of performance on academic tasks than children who start in grades 2 through 6 (Collier, 1987). This age difference may simply reflect the general finding that initial acquisition is faster for older learners with more cognitive skills, but it has also been interpreted as supporting the claim that second-language acquisition is faster and easier if continued development in the first language is supported through mastery of the basic grammar in the first language, around age 6. Cummins (1979) has interpreted such findings as validating the importance of continued development of first-language grammar, although other researchers disagree (Rossell and Baker, 1996; Porter, 1990). Intelligence Another factor in second-language acquisition may be general intelligence. This factor has been addressed mainly in the arena of foreign-language learning in the classroom (Carroll, 1986; Gardner, 1983; Oller, 1981). For immigrant learners and those in immersion settings, second-language learning is evidently not impeded by learning disabilities or low intelligence to the extent it would be in formal learning settings (Bruck, 1982, 1984; see Genesee, 1992, for a review). In the field of bilingual education, second-language acquisition has not been tied to questions of general aptitude, although educational practitioners commonly observe that second-language acquisition is easier for students with a history of formal education and higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Furthermore, correlational studies that examine relative proficiencies in the two languages of bilingual children show that native-language proficiency is a strong predictor of second-language development (Cummins, 1984; Hakuta, 1987). It should be noted that assessing the intelligence of second-language learners
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Page 39 is a risky process. Whenever possible, such assessments should be conducted in the native languagethough if the assessment is closely tied to school tasks, the child may display better performance in the school language. Koopmans (1991) showed that native Spanish-speaking third to fifth graders in bilingual programschildren who had lived in the United States an average of 11 yearsperformed better in Spanish on a logical reasoning task of a type rarely encountered in either home or classroom discourse. Malakoff (1988), on the other hand, showed that children at an international school performed better in the curricular than the home language on an analogies task, even at a very low level of general skill in the curricular language. Attitudes Studies investigating the predictive power of language attitudes and motivation for second-language acquisition have been limited, by and large, to students who study a foreign language that is generally used only in the classroom (Gardner and Lambert, 1972). Such studies have shown that a positive attitude and motivation are significant factors in predicting oral communicative skills in a second language, whereas language aptitude predicts proficiency in knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. It is therefore clear that attitude and motivation are important factors in second-language learning in some contexts. Yet the few studies that have looked at the importance of these factors in the acquisition of English among immigrants to the United States have had largely negative findings. For example, Hakuta and D'Andrea (1992) studied Mexican-American attitudes toward English and Spanish and administered tests of English and Spanish proficiency. Attitude had no predictive power for English proficiency, whereas a positive attitude toward Spanish predicted whether students continued to use that language as part of their sociolinguistic repertoire. In sociolinguistic settings such as the United States, it is likely that any variation in the attitudes of immigrant populations toward English will be largely overridden by the overwhelming importance of English to getting ahead in the society. Personality Many studies have attempted to isolate factors related to individual predisposition, over and above basic intelligence, toward second-language acquisition. Most of this work is focused on learning a foreign language rather than on learning a language in the society where it is used. A review of this literature shows a serious failure to address issues of construct validity (Bialystok and Hakuta, 1994). Given the inordinate difficulty of validly measuring personality constructs cross-culturally, this is probably not a very fruitful area for future research, although it will continue to be a source of speculation because of its intrinsic interest.
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Page 42 the student's two languages in elementary-grade bilingual classrooms (e.g., Enright, 1982; Milk, 1990; Shultz, 1975). Although these studies generally do not report outcome data with respect to English acquisition or native-language development, they have shown that English tends to predominate in terms of messages conveyed and frequency of use. For example, in her ethnographic study of mathematics teaching in five bilingual classrooms, Khisty (1995) found that teachers tended to use the students' native language, Spanish, as an ''instrument to discipline, to call students' attention to the subject of the lesson, or to punctuate a statement" (p. 288). When providing mathematical explanations, teachers tended to revert to English, using only a scattering of Spanish words. However, Khisty found that these same teachers used Spanish consistently during reading and language arts instruction. Research on whether these conditions of use contribute optimally to the acquisition of English and/or maintenance of Spanish remains to be done. A concern for documenting and understanding the factors that contribute to the diminished role of native languages in schools and classrooms has also framed classroom studies conducted in bilingual settings. Ethnographic research investigating bilingual programs has shown how social, cultural, and even political conditions may mediate the language-development goal and outcomes of the programs. For example, Pease-Alvarez and Winsler (1994) found that attitudes and beliefs favoring Spanish operate relatively independently from patterns of language choice in some classroom settings. Several other studies have shown how difficult it is to achieve the goal of dual language development and native-language maintenance in societies where assimilation toward the dominant group is the prevailing ideology. For example, Escamilla (1994) found that schoolwide practices (e.g., language choice among faculty members and the language used for public displays and presentations in the school) contrasted with the school's official commitment to the development and support of both languages. Similarly, McCollum (1993) found that in a middle school two-way bilingual program, Spanish-background students used primarily English at school by choice. She interpreted her findings in terms of "cultural capital," arguing that students perceived English, not Spanish, as the language of power and responded accordingly. Other studies have looked more generally at the effects of English-only and bilingual school environments on the overall language and cognitive development of English-language learners. Paul and Jarvis (1992), for example, compared English-language learners in bilingual and monolingual prekindergarten classrooms, and found positive outcomes for the children in the former classrooms on a criterion-referenced test, the Chicago Early Assessment and Remediation Laboratory (EARLY). An evaluation study of the Carpinteria Preschool Program, in which classroom activities were carried out exclusively in Spanish, shows similarly positive effects of first-language use on second-language acquisition (Campos, 1995). Even though their preschool program was
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Page 43 conducted entirely in Spanish, by first grade almost half of the Carpinteria children were at level 5 (fluent English) on the Bilingual Syntax Measure, as compared with fewer than 10 percent of English-language learners from day care and other programs. Campos concluded that "there was no evident delay in the rate of English acquisition by the Carpinteria Preschool students, and they demonstrated competency in applying their English language skills. When compared with the language-minority comparison preschool group, they acquired English language fluency faster, transitioned out of bilingual education classrooms sooner, and achieved in English language classrooms and on English language standardized tests better. Clearly, first language development in their preschool program did not interfere or delay their second language learning. Instead the results suggest that they were better prepared to understand and utilize opportunities in their learning environment" (p. 46). Further, the investigators reported that these students had apparently maintained their bilingual skills and that almost all were expected to graduate from high school. Such studies point to the importance of understanding the linguistic environments of institutional settings that serve as the primary base for second-language acquisition. These environments are best thought of as both dependent variables that are outcomes of larger social and cultural processes and independent variables that affect the linguistic attainment of the children. A wide variety of methodologies must be brought to bear on this problem, ranging from interpretive, ethnographic studies on the social and cultural ecology within which such programs exist, to more hypothesis-testing approaches that look at specific relationships between the linguistic environments and the linguistic attainments of English-language learners. It is critically important to understand preschool environments for two major reasons. First, during the preschool years, language development itself is a major outcome of interest. The few studies reviewed suggest that the development of the native language and of English are interdependent, but additional work is needed in this area, particularly because the issue of native-language development through these programs promises to be just as controversial as what we have witnessed in the K-12 programs to date. Second, there are increasing calls for the expansion of high-quality preschool opportunities for all children (e.g., Carnegie Corporation, 1996). A critical ingredient in defining quality is the linguistic environment of these programs. This represents a window of opportunity where research can make a difference for a large number of programs and children. Research Needs 2-1. Research is needed on the factors that account for variation in second-language acquisition. Variability in the degree of English acquisition can be attributable to variation in individual and group characteristics. More work is needed in particular on the latter factors.
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Page 44 Research on individual factors in second-language acquisition, including age of the learner, intelligence, and attitudes and motivation, has already yielded many answers. On the other hand, less is known about group effects, such as whether some groups of immigrants are more likely to acquire English rapidly or to higher levels than others, or whether certain sociolinguistic or educational conditions lead to more rapid acquisition of English than others. There has been insufficient research systematically relating rich information about the settings for learning Englishsuch as how much direct instruction is provided, the order in which structures are taught, and the use of written versus oral modes for provision of inputto information about the rate and process of acquisition for individual learners. Furthermore, the individual factors that have been investigated may interact with group effects in ways that can yield new theoretical insights. 2-2. An important contribution to understanding variability in second-language acquisition would be an enhanced understanding of the components of English proficiency and how these components interact. Also important is the question of how proficiencies in the two languages of bilinguals are interrelated. The above questions have a direct bearing on the appropriate assessment of English-language proficiency with respect to socially and academically valued outcomes (see also Chapter 5). 2-3. Assessment of second-language learners should involve analysis of unstructured, spontaneous speech in addition to more structured instruments. An important research goal is thus to create a common pool of spontaneous speech data for use by researchers. The analysis of spontaneous speech could become systematized and routinely incorporated into the research culture if data sets were made widely available through the Internet. Such a system already exists in the field of child first-language acquisition through the Child Language Data Exchange System (MacWhinney, 1991). Expansion of this system to include data on second-language acquisition and bilingual children would greatly increase the vitality and productivity of the field. 2-4. It is essential to understand the interaction between language and other domains of human functioning. Research reviewed here on the consequences of bilingualism has concluded that there are no negative consequences of learning two languages in childhood and that there are some positive correlations between bilingualism and general cognitive ability. This research should move beyond seeking macro-level effects and begin looking for more detailed and specific relationships between linguistic representations on the one hand and cognitive and social representations on the
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Page 45 other. This recommendation is revisited in the discussion of content area learning and the recommendations in Chapter 3. 2-5. Macro-level questions about language shift in the United States have amply demonstrated the short-lived nature of non-English languages. Research is needed to help in understanding the dynamics of language shift. Such research would include examining how messages concerning the value of native languages are conveyed, how children and youth understand such messages, what the effects are on the children's identities and their school achievement, and what the likelihood is of maintaining the native language while learning English. We need also to develop a more specific understanding of what is meant by language attrition, such as the relationship between language choice (choosing not to use one's native language) and the loss of language proficiency. Moreover, compared with current knowledge on the types of educational services provided to English-language learners to meet their needs in English, there is very little systematic information available on language programs for native-language development (such as courses in Spanish for Spanish speakers that are available in some high schools and universities). Finally, large-scale survey research is needed to determine Americans' attitudes toward both languages other than English and their speakers, and whether those attitudes are shared by the minority language speakers themselves.
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Page 52 COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF SCHOOL LEARNING: SUMMARY OF THE STATE OF KNOWLEDGE Research to date on the cognitive aspects of how children acquire literacy and content area knowledge in school has yielded the following key insights: • Future successful readers typically arrive at school with a set of prior experiences and well-established skills conducive to literacy, including an understanding of literacy, abstract knowledge of the sound and structure of language, a certain level of vocabulary development, and oral connected discourse skills. In terms of English-language learners, there is considerable variability among ethnic or language groups in home literacy practices; some minimal ability to segment spoken language into phonemic units is a prerequisite to beginning to read, and bilingualism promotes this ability; English vocabulary is a primary determinant of reading comprehension; and there are positive correlations between English second-language oral proficiency and reading ability, particularly at higher grade levels, but not equally across all first-language groups. • Early instruction is impacted by lack of explicit instruction in the local orthography, absence of background knowledge and skills acquired in highly literate environments, and lack of semantic support for decoding that comes from familiarity with the words one reads. With regard to reading instruction in a second language, there is remarkably little direct relevant research. • Studies of the nature of what can be transferred from first- to second-language reading need to take into account not only the level of first-language reading, but also the level and content of the second-language reading material. • English-language learners may encounter difficulties in reading because of limited access to word meanings in English and novel rhetorical structures. • Different subjects have different core structures; there are multiple kinds of knowledgeknowledge of ideas and facts, as well as knowledge of how to do something; and prior knowledge plays a significant role in learning. • The above five conclusions suggest that literacy assessments alone are not adequate measures for understanding specific subject matter knowledge; certain disciplines may lend themselves more easily to the transfer of knowledge across languages, depending on the structure of knowledge within the domain; attention to the subject matter specificity of learning and issues surrounding different classes of knowledge suggest the difficulty of providing high-quality instruction designed for English-language learners; and the way content learned in one language is accessed in a second is of concern since depth, interconnectness, and accessibility of prior knowledge dramatically influence the processing of new information.
Representative terms from entire chapter: